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InCryptid #0.10

Oh Pretty Bird

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It's been years since the death of their first child, Daniel, but Jonathan and Frances Healy have never been able to catch the person responsible...until now. When word comes that the Apraxis hives are moving strangely, and that a familiar woman with black hair and no history has appeared, it seems like things may finally come to fruition.

And it's not like they won't have backup: Enid and Alexander Healy have not forgiven the woman who cost them their first grandchild, and they're not about to let Johnny and Fran ride out alone. They don't know much about the situation that they're walking into. They know enough to be afraid, to be on their guards, and to stay together at all times.

Can they avenge their own without paying more than they can afford? Old questions are finally answered, and old debts are paid as the Healys walk into the most dangerous situation they have faced thus far. It's for Daniel. There's no question of whether they'll go. There's only a question of whether they'll come back.

31 pages, ebook

First published July 1, 2014

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About the author

Seanan McGuire

469 books15.5k followers
Hi! I'm Seanan McGuire, author of the Toby Daye series (Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, An Artificial Night, Late Eclipses), as well as a lot of other things. I'm also Mira Grant (www.miragrant.com), author of Feed and Deadline.

Born and raised in Northern California, I fear weather and am remarkably laid-back about rattlesnakes. I watch too many horror movies, read too many comic books, and share my house with two monsters in feline form, Lilly and Alice (Siamese and Maine Coon).

I do not check this inbox. Please don't send me messages through Goodreads; they won't be answered. I don't want to have to delete this account. :(

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5 stars
161 (27%)
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277 (47%)
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136 (23%)
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12 (2%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 53 reviews
Profile Image for Maria Dimitrova.
745 reviews142 followers
February 4, 2017
I always wondered how the Healys discovered the cuckoos. I never expected it to be the cause of a family tragedy along the way.

Years ago Jonathan and Frances came across a strange cryptid capable of telepathy. That encounter led to one happy event - the marriage between those two - and one tragic event - the murder of their young son. By targeting the youngest Healy that cryptid ensured that she would be hunted to the end of the world and beyond. And now the Healys have finally caught up with her.

The experience was creepy as hell. The power a cuckoo has is extraordinary and extremely dangerous. I had grown lax in my weariness of the species because of Sarah and grandma Baker but seeing what just two of them had done to an entire town cured me of that! *shudders* Still I wonder what Jonathan and Frances would have thought about having not one but two cuckoos adopted into the family :) They would probably freak out at first. But I'm sure that Sarah and grandma Baker would have won them over.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,643 reviews1,512 followers
January 16, 2017
I didn't get all the Cuckoo hate in the main set of books until a read a few shorts with cuckoo's gone bad and well after that you could see why the family is so careful about them.

It has been five years since the death of their son and finally the person responsible has been located. The family has to hurry and get to Indiana to make sure this is the right person and maybe close the page on this horrific part of their lives.

I love how the Healy's always use teamwork and really work well together. They are a great family unit and seem all the stronger when they team up. The town the cuckoo was squatting in was Creepy, good thing those things are solitary creatures I don't know what the world would do if they teamed up against the humans.

The cutest moment was seeing a toddler Alice and her unusual teething habits plus meeting Mary for the first time.
Profile Image for Angela.
3,199 reviews371 followers
December 30, 2016
Finally! Finally, they can get justice for the unimaginable wrong that was done to them! This was an incredibly emotional story for me. I've been waiting for this since Daniel died.

It's hard for me to be objective and actually talk about the story, because I was so invested in what was happening. But I did love that we learn more about the cuckoos here, and even see how it came to be that the Healys (to-be Prices) learned so much about them.
Profile Image for Ronda.
861 reviews141 followers
April 13, 2016
I was so worried about this but it seems to have paved the way for me to worry later! I really enjoyed this short but it was a little scary... I'm apprehensive for Johnny and Fran's future!!
Profile Image for Marjolein (UrlPhantomhive).
2,389 reviews51 followers
November 26, 2016
3.5 Stars

Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

Another short in the InCryptid series. Jonathan and Fran have finally tracked down those responsible for the death of Daniel. It is a harsh reminder that some of the things they have been trying to protect are indeed real monsters.

It was good to finally see the characters get their revenge. As always nice to see the Aeslin mice again.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,343 reviews1,015 followers
October 16, 2016
It's been a long time coming (five years in terms of the storyline but several short stories for us readers LOL) but the Healy family have FINALLY tracked down the person responsible for baby Daniel's death. This is one hunt that will need the entire family to work together if they want a chance of success so young Alice is left with a babysitter while her parents and grandparents set out for revenge.

I don't want to say too much about who they're up against or what happens but things get more and more creepy the closer they get to their target. Fran, Jonathan, Enid and Alexander are facing the most dangerous cryptid they've ever come across and they've been able to find out very little information about what type of creature it is or what kind of abilities they might have. I was actually pretty worried that not everyone would survive the battle and I'm not going to put you out of your misery on that front either so you'll just have to read the story for yourself to find out which of the Healys make it home safely.

I'm so invested in this family and they definitely deserve a little happiness after everything they've been through but we've already had a few hints that everything isn't what it seems with Alice's babysitter so I'm really hoping nothing horrible has happened while they were away from home.
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.7k reviews447 followers
March 21, 2016
Finally Frannie and Jonathon got the vindication they needed for what happened to Daniel. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person.
Profile Image for Nichole.
836 reviews19 followers
January 17, 2018
Even though it's been years since Daniel was killed, his family has never stopped trying to find his killer. This new lead just might be the one to point them to her. Great short. This story gave a little more background on Alexander and Enid too.
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,652 reviews216 followers
January 2, 2016


The Healys have caught up with a person responsible for the death of a three-year-old Daniel Healy. They have to leave baby Alice with a babysitter (now, that is another interesting bit thrown in because the babysitter is not quite what she seems).
In Oh Pretty Bird you get more about the grandparents' past, why they had to run from the Covenant, who was left behind, why they have to hide and so on. If I liked Alex and Enid before, I love them now.

The build up is perfect. I was even worried a bit whether they could pull it off. The parts about the past and the Aeslin mice (' “HAIL!” proclaimed the leather case in Enid’s hands, not to be left out of this conversation, as they had so many others.') are what makes this story even better. The responsible ones got off too lightly though.

Nitpick: 'She dare didn’t offer her name' was enough to put a damper on the fun.
Profile Image for Jessica.
138 reviews
July 26, 2014
It's interesting to find out the history behind the discovery of cuckoos by the Healys and read about Mary, whom I read about the first time in Sparrow Hill Road, and her history with the Healys.

This short story is a satisfying conclusion to the tragedy of Daniel. At least justice has been served. Though I must say that a sad feeling remains in my heart even after finishing the short story. I wonder if this is what the Healys feel like.

This short story is highly recommended for fans of Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series.
Profile Image for carol..
1,575 reviews8,229 followers
December 12, 2015
Episode covers a time in the Healy family history when they get a sort of resolution for their son's death and discover a new species in the process. A little longer than many of the other InCryptid shorts, it creates an interesting setting. More horror-eerie feeling than the novels, it is in keeping with the tone of the early Healy stories. A satisfying entry into the series.
Profile Image for Coyora Dokusho.
1,432 reviews142 followers
October 28, 2014
These short stories are really interesting!!! It's interesting to read about the first encounters between the Healy family and cuckoos...
Profile Image for Sophie.
441 reviews161 followers
March 25, 2017
The Healys find out who was responsible for the death of Daniel Healy, and set out to get revenge.

Seanan, as always, excels at horror. The town entirely under the control of two powerful mind-manipulators is chilling in a Camazotz sort of way. However, I found that the mind-control aspect was diluted slightly by the fact that they never actually take over any of the Healys' minds in this particular story. They try with Fran, but she's immune to them, somehow, and don't think I don't want an explanation for THAT particular quirk, Seanan. Especially since Fran was supposedly left at the circus as a baby. WHY DOES FRAN HAVE MAGIC MIND POWERS. WHERE DID SHE COME FROM.

This story also marks the first appearance of Mary, the ghost babysitter, who also appears in Sparrow Hill Road.
Profile Image for L.
890 reviews31 followers
June 16, 2021
Jonathan and Fran Healy

To begin, let me lay out what I will be reviewing here. Seanan McGuire's website has a page entitled Incryptid Short Stories. About two dozen stories are listed here. These stories are also listed as books in the Goodreads Incryptid Series page. Neither of these lists is complete: McGuire has also published many stories on her Patreon site. They can be found in the Bibliography page on her site. I don't know if the Bibliography is complete with respect to Patreon stories.

Most of the stories on the Short Stories page are available for free download there. Some of them, however, were published in anthologies, and to get these you need to buy or borrow the book. For access to the Patreon stories you need to sign up as a supporter at Patreon. The minimum charge is $1.50. That's a recurring charge, but you only need to sign up once for access to all currently available stories. The Short Stories page is organized by the primary characters and time period. Here I will be reviewing the stories listed under the heading Jonathan Healy and Frances Brown (1928-1945). These are:

The Flower of Arizona (published in Westward Weird)
One Hell of a Ride (free download)
No Place Like Home (free download)
Stingers and Strangers (published in Dead Man's Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West)
Married in Green (free download)
Sweet Poison Wine (free download)
The First Fall (free download)
Loch and Key (free download)
We Both Go Down Together (free download)
Oh Pretty Bird (free download)
Bury Me In Satin (free download)
Broken Paper Hearts (free download)
The Star of New Mexico (free download)

As you can see, there's a lot of material here. Even though it is formatted as stories, the stories in totality (in the order listed) are pretty much a novel about Jonathan and Fran. Of the two anthologized stories, which you would have to buy or borrow, the first, The Flower of Arizona, is entirely dispensible. You will read most of it in the other stories. Stingers and Strangers, in contrast, is a substantial story and important both to the continuity of the Jonathan and Fran stories and to the Incryptid series as a whole. What's more, the anthology Dead Man's Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West is pretty good, with a star-studded list of science fiction authors. So, if you're going to buy or borrow something, I would recommend it.

Well, how are the stories? They're excellent, of course. If you really want the backstory on the Healy/Price family, this is the place to look. Although the stories focus on Jonathan and Fran (more Fran than Jonathan), Jonathan's parents Alexander and Enid Healy are important characters as well, and you will pick up several hints about their backstories. Fran doesn't have a regular family, but the members of the circus/carnival where she performed before Jonathan swept her away are also important characters.

Of the main Incryptid novels, I have only read Discount Armageddon, and I was a bit surprised by the Jonathan and Fran stories. They are not as light-hearted as Discount Armageddon. Although McGuire's trademark humor and irreverence permeate the stories, they are more somber than I expected. In fact, there is tragedy, especially in the so-short-it-is-barely-there Broken Paper Hearts. I was also surprised at how important the Aeslin Mice were. In Discount Armageddon they are mostly just comic relief -- delightful, but not terribly necessary to the plot. In the Jonathan and Fran stories I can think of at least three occasions where they play crucial roles in the plot. The most important occurs when Alice, The Exceptionally Noisy Priestess, is born.

So, yeah, if you're into the Incryptid books, you should definitely read these stories.
Profile Image for Kathy Davie.
4,712 reviews708 followers
July 27, 2015
It's a free short story from Seanan McGuire, 0.10 in the InCryptid urban fantasy series, and revolving around a family of renegade "monster hunters" seeking vengeance for the assassination of their young son and grandson.

If you're interested, there is a chronological listing of the InCryptid books on my website of the live-and-let-live Healys who have seen the error of their ways when it comes to huntin' down monsters.

My Take
I already know how easily McGuire kills off characters, and I was terrified that someone would die in "Oh Pretty Bird". After all, how do you combat a supernatural who can manipulate your mind?

But their cause was just, and I burned as well for vengeance.

The Story
It's taken five years for the Healys to track down the assassin responsible for their baby's murder. Now they've found her, and they'll take her out or die.

The Characters
Jonathan Healy is married to Fran, and they have a baby daughter, Alice, who prefers teething on antlers. Enid Carew Healy and Alexander Healy are Jonathan's parents. They all live in the same house on the outskirts of Buckley Township. The Aeslin mice keep an oral history of absolutely everything that happens in the Healy family.

Mary Dunlavy is the Healys' babysitter and much beloved. She quit school to housekeep for her father when her mother died.

Whiting, Indiana
Mrs. Tapper is the town librarian with a finger on the pulse of the community. Robert Tapper is the school principal.

Heloise Tapper is a mind manipulator. Alexander is positive she is responsible for setting up a "suicide", that of his contact, Marcel, a Bigfoot in Connecticut.

The Red Angel is a drinking establishment in Buckley. A Letiche witch makes amulets to protect minds from being invaded. Apraxis wasps are brain-eating bugs with a migrating pattern. Alexander has set up a fail-safe with Arturo Gucciard, a family friend we first met in "Sweet Poison Wine".

The Cover and Title
The cover is rather terrifying in its gothic splendor with the three-story Gothic Revival mansion set far in the back and slightly off-center on that brick-baked street. It's a wide road going through town, and the barely seen storefronts on either side of the "path" are a metaphor for the townfolk.

The title is a mockery of the Healys' prey as they seek "Oh Pretty Bird" to achieve vengeance.
Profile Image for Myndi .
1,378 reviews51 followers
July 27, 2014
I was so excited to see that McGuire had put out another short about Fran and Jonathan. This story was bittersweet because we revisit the story of what happened to Daniel, but it was nice in the fact that we see that Alice is doing fine (which we know from the other books, but still it's nice to see) and we get some closure on what happened to Daniel. We also see how the Healy family found out about Cuckoos, which of course is very important later on in the series with cousin Sarah and the adopted Grandmother. We also see Mary, whom we've heard about in the future books as well. I hope McGuire keeps giving us more little tidbits to fill in the gaps of how everything happened to get the Price family where they are in the current books.
Profile Image for Jenevieve.
937 reviews13 followers
March 26, 2015
Review first published on My Blog. Check out all my reviews there.

The continuing adventures of Fran and Jonathan Healy. It's been several years since their first child, Daniel, was murdered in his bed. They have moved forward with their lives and have had a little girl, Alice, but they have never stopped looking for the person who cost them their firstborn. Now it looks like Jonathan's parents, Enid and Alex, have a lead but the odds are not in favor of their surviving this trip.

It was nice to see some resolution on that storyline. It sounds like we won't see much more of Jonathan and Frances which is a bummer as I have really enjoyed them.
Profile Image for Ivy.
1,482 reviews77 followers
June 5, 2015
Nice to know who killed Daniel. RIP Daniel. Nice to know more about Enid. Wish we could learn more of the last names of the families that are/ were in the Covenant. Nice to finally see the first cuckoos. Are those Sarah's parents?
Profile Image for Liz (Quirky Cat).
4,331 reviews66 followers
August 9, 2021
My binge through Seanan McGuire's InCryptid short stories continues here with Oh Pretty Bird. We're still on Jonathan and Frances Healy, and I adore them so much. It's been refreshing getting to know some of the older Healy/Price members for obvious reasons.

In a way, this short story still feels somewhat somber, though they're getting better. They'll never be fully healed, of course. But it's something. What will be better is finding and killing the woman/monster responsible for their son's death.

On that note, we have Oh Pretty Bird. This involves the hunting and vengeance upon a Cuckoo – one who is infinitely more dangerous than the counterpart we're all more used to seeing in the series. It's a darker short story, but one very much at home with this series.

Check out more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks
Profile Image for Skye.
1,395 reviews2 followers
August 27, 2020
This short story features the first interaction between the Healys and Cuckoos and it is kind of brilliant. I wonder if the child in this is the child that we get to know throughout Discount Armageddon. But it’ll be interesting to find out. I loved the way that this story not only built on the previous short stories, but gave even more background into a new discovery which will feature in the future stories.

This story is violent, blood thirsty and just a little bit angry. Although there are plenty of moments throughout that acknowledge this, and somehow help to diminish the power of the blood thirst and revenge that drives this storyline. I really loved that balance between the two forms.

The biggest thing that intrigues me about this short story is what in the heck happens to the baby after both the parent Cuckoos are removed. I’m not sure whether I feel hopeful or scared…
Profile Image for Ronnie.
428 reviews4 followers
May 6, 2020
This might be my favourite of Fran and Johnny's stories so far. While I've only read the first of the proper InCryptid novels, I was always super interested in just how dangerous cuckoos were. I've also been wondering who had Daniel killed. It was also interesting to get more insight into Enid and Alexander's past, especially as, to my, they're by far the most interesting of the Healy/Price family and I would love to get some short stories dedicated to them.

This short story resolved a ton of questions for me, and did it in a very satisfying way.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Stephen Topp.
361 reviews6 followers
April 6, 2019
I'm definitely reading these out of order.

I don't know what the right order is, but I'm not reading them in any sort of chronology (either the order in which they were written, or the order in which they occur).

In any case, this is the first one I've read that's good, which is a bit of a relief because I didn't want to abandon my intended goal of reading them all. We have cuckoos and tension and quirky moments.
Profile Image for Nerdy Werewolf.
616 reviews33 followers
May 18, 2018
"I'll lose control of the truck if you stab me, dear."

You want to know about the history of the Healy clan? This is the story you read. The family has only encountered cuckoos once before and that's a shaky memory at best. Now, it looks like they're up against a few that might have actually mind-controlled an entire town. I love this family.
Profile Image for Andrew Brooks.
327 reviews14 followers
April 15, 2023
This i would call the bones of a good novella. The impression I got was a very good story that had gaps in plot (maybe space restrictions or rushed for time). With a little more meat, this would easily be a 4 star
Profile Image for Louisa.
7,174 reviews43 followers
June 24, 2017
This book was really great, getting revenge and vengeance for Daniel, and yeah, of the family first learning about cuckoos!
Profile Image for Sandy.
963 reviews8 followers
February 10, 2018
Dang it. I wish I had read Stingers and Strangers when they first met Heloise. Maybe some day. I love Fran and Jonathan.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 53 reviews

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